Unlike many non-Christian, non-religious people I am not particularly upset about this, because there is no part of a town meeting that is more widely ignored than the prayer with which it starts. Whatever agenda of potentially heart-stopping boredom the rest of the meeting is going to concern itself with—more school crossing guards, widening the sewers, listening to some crazy old person who wants her neighbor’s poultry farm enclosed by a dome of soundproof glass—it is all more interesting than being prayed over by some rumbling authority figure asking the Lord to pay attention to small-town political squabbling. Somewhere, if He has the good grace to exist, the Lord is thinking “Not,” and going back to overhauling the galaxies.
I don’t mean to brag here, but only God can ignore prayers better than I can. I credit my uncanny ability to ignore other people praying to my sturdy Catholic upbringing. Listening to other people pray while thinking about almost anything besides God is the Catholic way. They even used to have Masses in Latin to facilitate this. There’s nothing like hearing someone drone on in a dead language to enable you to free your mind from all thoughts of sin, eternity and your immortal soul in favor of constantly looking at your watch and wondering whether the weather is going to clear up enough for you to golf or fish later on. Then they switched the Mass to a language people actually understood, but it was still pretty easy to lose track of, especially if you were a young man deep in the throes of puberty and were surrounded by great-looking Catholic moms in tight dresses.
Of course, even thinking about sex is a sin in the Catholic tradition—you’re not even supposed to think about it when you’re having it, if I remember doctrine correctly-- and thinking about it during Mass is even worse. When I last attended church on a regular basis, for family reasons, about ten years ago, I realized I would actually be sinning less if I stayed at home watching football. That’s not why I quit going again—sinning less has never been one of my priorities—but I did realize that most of my praying occurred after I spotted some Catholic lass I knew as a maiden long ago and said reverently to myself Jesus, didn’t she grow up to be a honey!
This feeling of tranquil light horniness was only interrupted by the Sign of Peace, which is when all the other Catholics around you clutch for your hand and mumble something about peace, as if peace could be achieved by grabbing at strangers in the next pew, people whom you hardly know, let alone fight with. I always pulled a Kleenex out of my pocket when this action started and pretended to have the flu. Otherwise I just waited it out, until the blessed moment when the Mass was over.
So I’m well-equipped to withstand the barrage of prayers the Supreme Court has let loose upon the land. All of we unbelievers, pagans and infidels are—we’re used to it. And let’s not haul in a bunch of Wiccans or Zoroastrians to bless us in the interests of spiritual equality. Christianity is the religion we’re accustomed to ignoring—let’s keep it that way.
Direct all the prayers you want at me. I won’t even notice, just as I suspect He won’t, either. It’s the only chance I have to enjoy being God-like. I’m not Kanye West, for Christ’s sake.